Release: 30th September 2019
Format: BR / DVD
ROCKETMAN is an epic musical story about Elton John’s breakthrough years. The film follows the fantastical journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John. This inspirational story – set to Elton John’s most beloved songs and performed by star Taron Egerton – tells the universally relatable story of how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop culture.
Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody will forever be intrinsically linked. Both films shared a director in Dexter Fletcher (albeit as a temporary stand-in for Bryan Singer in the case of Bo Rhap), both films were released within a few months of each other, and both films are about flamboyant rock stars. But make no mistake, although Rocketman is a better film than Bohemian Rhapsody, it is more so and more notably a much better production; with a central star who is magnetic and clearly has an overt talent for singing.
With Elton John and his partner David Furnish as producers on Rocketman, it will come as no surprise that this film functions as a love letter to the trials and personal successes of John, himself. The film is, unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, keen to explore the history of rampant drug abuse, alcohol abuse and sexual escapades of the ostentatious musician, but there is a sense that Rocketman is more about Elton John as conquering victim of an abusive partner and an industry designed to bleed even the most talented of individuals dry. It is a rose-tinted look through zebra patterned, guitar shaped glasses.
Rocketman hinges on a central performance from Taron Egerton and a visual style and commitment from director Dexter Fletcher that would best be described as an acid dipped musical dramady; with the good news being that both deliver. Fletcher proves a deft hand while Egerton breathes charisma and talent, with sequences such as the ‘Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting’ dance number and a stunning odyssey for the titular song, ‘Rocketman’, that starts in a swimming pool and ends up with John, clad in sparkling baseball attire, rocketing into space before a stadium filled with screaming fans. This is not just a film that plays on fan’s love of the music, it embodies the spirit of who John was and is.
The downside to this rambunctious narrative comes courtesy of its own format. Amid all this leaping between fantasy and musical ecstasy, the film’s narrative turns in to a disconnected and sometimes apathetic mess that leaps through timelines and relationships like the whiskey-soaked half-conscious mess John once was. The tonal shifts of Rocketman are also hard to accept in earnest, due to the fact that the film is just as fantastical when John hits rock-bottom as it was when he is riding high. The tension of loss and the stress of success ride on moments such as John finding his partner casually cheating by a poolside and getting bitchslapped by the same partner after coming out to his mum. These moments must have been devastating in reality, but here they play second fiddle to a room full of dancers floating to ‘Crocodile Rock’.
There is no doubt that with a film as vibrant and loud as this, 4K is the way to go. Oddly, things do not start of that great, with the opening number ‘The Bitch is Back’ falling foul to some weak colour grading that plays with the Sin City / Schindler’s List technique of isolating certain colours, but end up making Taron Egerton look like he has been digitally mapped in to the scene. The Dolby soundtrack, meanwhile, does its job of bringing a concert in to your front room. The distinction between audio and music tracks aren’t as forgiving as in some 4K presentations, but you will hardly be up and down with the volume.
Film Grade: C+
At current we are not able to review the special features, as the 4K disc does not come with supplements.
Special Features Grade:
This is as Elton John as a film could be, but for all of its dazzle, it is the man rather than the myth that we do not quite get to appreciate.